Photo from Wayne C. Henderson School of Appalachian Arts
Cultural exhibits and arts are as interwoven in Southwest Virginia’s heritage as are the mountains that surround the region.
When it comes to tradition-rich venues, there is none more celebrated than the iconic Barter Theatre in Abingdon. The longest-running professional theatre in the nation, Barter opened in 1933 during the Great Depression and is the official state theater of Virginia.
The region is also home to Big Stone Gap’s “The Trail of the Lonesome Pine,” one of the country’s longest-running outdoor dramas, which has been giving audience members a look at what life in Southwest Virginia was like at the turn of the 20th century since 1964. Marion's Lincoln Theater takes this region’s music worldwide, hosting the monthly PBS series, Song of the Mountains, while the Wohlfahrt Haus Dinner Theatre in Wytheville, a wonderful state-of-the-art German-themed experience, is Virginia’s only all musical theater.
Nearly every town features theaters where touring companies and musicians once brought their latest shows. Today, these small theaters have been renovated to be centers for a cultural renaissance, bringing live music and theater to beautiful and historic spaces.
Art centers and galleries, such as the Southwest Virginia Cultural Center and Marketplace, offer visitors the chance to see and buy original art and crafts made right here. There is also the opportunity to take a variety of classes, like weaving, quilting, etc. at venues like The Appalachian Art Center in Cedar Bluff, a retail gallery and exhibition space, as well as the Chestnut Creek School of the Arts in Galax, which teaches students how to play the banjo, guitar, fiddle or other stringed instrument from local, master traditional musicians.